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Voices that are whiny, irrelevant and unhelpful

By CHRIS POWELL

Publication: The Day

Published December 07. 2012 4:00AM

Connecticut is full of piously whiny groups that advocate various social-service causes but establish only what is already fully understood: that everybody wants more money from state government in the name of addressing one problem or another. These groups seldom pursue the causes of the problems they cite, nor do they acknowledge the competition for public resources and suggest any specific reordering of government's priorities. Raising taxes is always fine by them if they get the money.

Such was the case the other day with the most pious and whiniest of these groups, Connecticut Voices for Children, which published a report noting that income inequality and poverty in Connecticut have been worsening.

But the main reason behind Connecticut's income inequality lately has been only the Federal Reserve's reflation of the stock and bond markets and the concentration of the financial "industry" in lower Fairfield County. While that "industry" only manipulates money, Connecticut gets a lot of tax revenue from it and so profits greatly from its exaggeration of income inequality. At the end of its report Connecticut Voices for Children even conceded that this is beyond state government's control. And the social disintegration of Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven is caused by government subsidies, not the hedge funds of Greenwich, Stamford, and Westport.

Some useful policy conclusions still could be drawn here but Connecticut Voices for Children didn't draw them. For example, does state government really need to give the world's most profitable hedge fund $115 million to relocate a few miles from Westport to Stamford, as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has done? And what about the income inequality represented by the spectacular salaries and slush funds recently disclosed in Connecticut's higher education system?

Fat targets abound in state government but Connecticut Voices for Children and most social-service lobby groups overlook them lest they risk going beyond mere posturing to actual relevance.

It's the same lately with Connecticut's judges, who are agitating for raises, having not gotten one in five years even as their compensation now is said to rank 45th among the 50 states and some expert judges have resigned to go back to practicing law, where salaries more resemble those in higher education administration.

Connecticut Voices for Children, the judges, and others seeking more money may have a case, but amid state government's bloat and ineffectuality it probably won't be very interesting or convincing until they specify where, within the government itself rather than from higher taxes, their extra money could come from.

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